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Julian Knight: Former Tory MP to stand as independent and calls Rishi Sunak ‘disastrous campaigner’ | Politics News

Former Tory MP Julian Knight has announced he will stand as an independent in the general election.

The MP for Solihull was suspended from the Conservative parliamentary party in December 2022 after it emerged he was being investigated by police over a claim of serious sexual assault.

Mr Knight has always maintained his innocence and on 2 April 2023, the Metropolitan Police dropped the investigation without questioning him.

But he remained suspended from the Tory parliamentary party as the chief whip, who organises the MPs, said “further complaints” had been made against him – allegations he rejects.

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Announcing the decision to fight for his seat, Mr Knight claimed he had been “forced out” of the party and said the “false allegation” against him is “now being investigated by police for perversion of the course of justice”.

He posted on X: “After discussions with family, Conservative members and constituents I have decided to run as an Independent in the forthcoming election.

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“Solihull deserves more than a whips-appointed candidate who doesn’t get the issues.

“It’s important that having been forced out of the party after an entirely false allegation, which is now being investigated by police for perversion of the course of justice, it’s important to make a stand. People should not lose their position because of a false allegation.”

Mr Knight previously said he would not seek re-election.

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In a series of social media posts, he accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of being a “disastrous campaigner” and said Solihull would “be best served” by an independent while a Labour government is in power.

He said: “I will be campaigning on local issues – the election is over and Rishi has proven a disastrous campaigner so in a parliament dominated by Labour, Solihull would be best served by an Independent.”

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Mr Knight has represented Solihull, near Birmingham, since 2015 and had a comfortable majority of over 20,000 in the 2019 general election.

However, Labour has managed to turn over larger majorities than that in recent by-elections – many of which have been triggered by sleaze scandals.

The seat Mr Knight will be fighting is the newly created Solihull West and Shirley constituency.

The Tories have not put forward a candidate there yet.

Those confirmed to be running in the contest so far include Deirdre Fox for Labour, Ade Adeyemo for the Liberal Democrats, Mary Ann McKenna for Reform UK, and Shahin Ashraf for the Greens.

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